The couch stretch is an effective mobility drill and a hip opener that can minimize the risk of developing injuries and allow you to feel better overall, both mentally and physically. The drill targets the hip flexors, the iliopsoas precisely, which can become tight due to prolonged sitting, poor postural behaviors, or muscular imbalance. This often causes discomfort, pain, and weakness in your back, hips, and knees.
If we look closer at the anatomy of the iliopsoas, and we understood how does the human body work and adapt, we would be able to understand why it is important to everyone to practice this stretch on regular basis.
As it’s shown in the picture above, the iliopsoas is two different muscles having the same insertion in the femur and it is considered as the main hip flexor. Both are attached to your thigh bone, but they have different origins, the Iliacus originated from the hip bone while the Psoas major starts from the spine, and that’s the main reason behind the importance of doing the couch stretch.
Since technology invaded the human being life and everything around us has become more convenient and easier to be done. We started to move less like a human and more like a robot. We spend most of our day in seated position whether we were in the car, in the train, in the office, at home, and even while training sometimes.
So if we think about how we spend most of our day and how do we load our muscles continuously, given the origin of the hip flexor in the spine, we will realize how much we stress our hip flexors without noticing and how does that load our spine progressively. That’s why we end up injuring our lower back and knees with minimal movements and tasks.
Our body has a phenomenal way to adapt to our movements. For example, if we bend an elbow and keep the arm in cast for couple of weeks, the elbow will end up in a limited range of motion. Why? Because the body got used to be in that position. On the other hand, if we look at yogis and how do they progress in their flexibility, we can see how the body adapts to their needs by practicing. The same concept can be implemented on spending hours every day in the same position (i.e. sitting).
Does this mean we should get a chair that has the best ergonomic features and posture friendly? Not at all, it is not about the position you sit in it more about how long you stay in the same position.
The idea of exercise was created by the human being to compensate the lack of movement is our life, right? So, think of your day to day movements and include the opposite movements in your training program to enhance the functional level of your body.
Note to take home:
Do your couch stretch!